The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Reid Jowers, August 16, 2019, Music

Roots freaks the world over have stuck by Lubbock-born/Ft. Worth-reared firebrand Delbert McClinton since his mid-Sixties debut, and now Tall, Dark, & Handsome postulates that the 78-year-old Austinite might very well dish out another five decades of country, blues, jazz, y más. Roughly his 29th album since 1972, the quick, 14-song follow-up to 2017's lively Prick of the Litter finds the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame member penning yet another love note to his Lone Star State, and stands as a testament to all 183 years of that history like a sequoia looming over the forest. Picking up both pace and vigor after Prick of the Litter, McClinton finds a Second Wind going all the way back to 1978, his voice still ragged but right and, here, full of piss and vinegar. The more things change, the more they root in the past. "If I Hock My Guitar" spotlights Southern sax belle Dana Robbins atop a sextet cooking up McClinton's trademark Texas gumbo, while "Gone to Mexico" goes south of the border on a flowing salsa melody. A number of 100-proof speakeasy moments in "Lulu," flapper ditty "No Chicken on the Bone," and the 88 keys of saucy "Ruby & Jules" offset the left/right blues combo "Loudmouth" and "Down in the Mouth" and strollin' ballad "Any Other Way." Even so, the penultimate, rain-soaked track "Temporarily Insane" might be the most real cut here, a stark vocal full of regret and naked mortality over bent piano chords. If Delbert McClinton's lost a step, he's still hot footin' it in leaps and bounds.


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